Thanks to attractive and simple-to-use templates, it’s easier than ever for companies to launch a new website. Even online stores are available in template form through hosting services that specialize in e-commerce. Some of these templates, particularly the ones without a store interface, are even free. If you’re part of a very small or new operation, it’s tempting to rely on one of these templates and simply plug your information in. However, even if you start with a template, it’s still important you customize it to suit your business and to optimize your website’s functionality and search engine results.
Change the Images
The simplest change you can make to a template website is to replace any stock photos with your own images – even your own stock photo choices. A company logo, professional quality photos of your products, satisfied customers, services, place of operations, and staff members are a good place to start. However, even just choosing different stock images will at least set your site apart from another business in the same industry that uses the same template.
Be sure, though, not to overload the site with too many images or images of too high picture quality. Adobe reports that 39 percent of people will leave a website if images take too long to load. As long as the image looks crisp and clear, you don’t need the biggest file size.
Highlight the Important Information
Tweak the template whenever necessary to put an emphasis on the important information most relevant to your company. For example, swap the “Contact” page from the very bottom of a template to the menu at the top, as it’s one of the most important pages for any business website. According to Ko Marketing Associates, 44 percent of website visitors will stop engaging a website if they can’t find a phone number or contact information.
Remove and add pages to a template to make your website truly representative of your business. If you’re not selling services and don’t need to display a portfolio of your work, remove a “Gallery” page. If you have testimonials to include, add “Testimonials.”
Add SEO Content
Add a blog to the template if it doesn’t include one already. Every business website needs a blog or news page because frequently updated content keeps a website higher in the search rankings. This is where you’ll manage to get a lot of terms relevant to your industry onto your website. For example, “affordable copyediting,” a common search term for those seeking copyeditors, should appear at least once a post if you offer copyediting services. Tweak any of the page information already provided with the template as well. The goal is to optimize search engine results for your website and to differentiate it from any other company that relies on the same template.
If you can afford it, it’s worth hiring experts to develop your site from scratch simply because it’ll stand out from the crowd and be fully customized to your business right from the start. You’ll also be able to rely on the web designer for any issues and updates. It’s probably less expensive than you might think. However, it’s worth putting up a free template website even as a place holder website as you develop your brand, and even a template can prove customizable.